The more my mother’s cooking becomes a distant memory, the more I long for a familiar taste—one that shuttles me at light speed back to her warm kitchen and a pot of something-or-other bubbling away in the oven. Nothing does that for me in the summer quite like her fruit crisps. She would use peaches, nectarines or even plums, throw in a handful of blueberries or raspberries and then top it with an oat-y crumble.
Using perfectly ripe summer peaches was a bit tricky for her. The fruit—super juicy—was often a little loose making the crisp topping a little soggy. But I loved it nonetheless. Vanilla ice cream melted under heat of the juices, blending into a creamy, fruity soup. And the topping was like a soft-baked oatmeal cookie. No complaints, honestly.
Yet, secretly, I wanted a crisper crisp. That chef’s trick of cooking the filling and topping separately always seemed a bit fussy and chef-y –something I shied away from when creating recipes for my readers at Food & Wine. That is, until I actually tried it and discovered how easy it was. And how much quicker it was to put together. And what a superior crisp it yielded.
The filling bakes in the dish while you prepare the topping.
Then the topping bakes separately on a tray for a few minutes while the fruit is still in the oven.
Finally, topping and filling assembled, everything bakes together until bubbling to blend the flavors and textures: Jammy fruit, crispy topping. Win-win!
I believe my mom would’ve approved and probably even started making her crisps this way. She may’ve been an old dog but she was no stranger to new tricks, especially when the reward is so sweet.
8 ripe peaches, peeled and cut into wedges
1 cup blueberries
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons St. Germain liqueur (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 light brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Crème fraiche, whipped cream or ice cream for serving
- Combine the peaches and blueberries with the granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest and the St Germain if using. Transfer to a medium baking dish. In another bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, butter and a pinch of salt until sandy. Press into small clumps and spread on a baking sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the fruit until juicy and soft, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bake the streusel, stirring once, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the streusel over the fruit and bake 10 minutes longer. Let cool slightly, then serve with crème fraiche, whipped cream or ice cream.